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February 5, 2014

Olympics spur protests against Russia’s anti-gay law

In response to international protests against a controversial Russian gay propaganda law, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) rebuked world leaders who have shunned the games for political reasons.

“That sport can only contribute to development and peace if it’s not used as a stage for political dissent or for trying to score points in internal or external political contests,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “Have the courage to address your disagreements in a peaceful, direct political dialogue, and not on the backs of the athletes.”

President Obama will not attend the games and sent three openly gay athletes in his place.

The furor began last June, when Russian lawmakers adopted a law they said was essential to protect the young.

The law, said State Duma Deputy Elena Mizulina, “outlaws the spreading of information aimed at forming nontraditional sexual attitudes among children.”

The statute sparked outrage around the world. In Paris, demonstrators formed Olympic rings, holding images of alleged human rights abuses in Russia. And in Sweden, 2,000 people gathered to sing Russia’s national anthem under rainbow flags symbolizing gay rights.


Warm up questions
  1. What does LGBT stand for and what is an example of LGBT rights?
  2. Why would the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia spur debate about LGBT rights?
  3. What do you know about Russia and its government?
Discussion questions
  1. Below are two parts of the “Olympic Spirit” as defined by the Olympic Charter.  How do these values relate to LGBT rights?

    Be the best you can be

    De Coubertin believed that ‘The important thing in life is not to triumph, but to compete,’ and encouraged everyone to compete against themselves. His sentiment was institutionalized in the Olympic motto which challenges each individual to become the best they can: ‘Citius, Altius, Fortius’ (Faster, Higher, Stronger).

    Did you know?

    Spirit of fair play
    The Olympic Charter, established by de Coubertin, states that ‘The practice of sport is a human right’. Everyone should be able to play sport ‘without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.’

  2. How do sports shape your values of friendship, solidarity and fair play?
  3. Do you think that the international protests will have any effect on Russia’s anti-gay law?  Why or why not?
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